Hand drills: on the endangered list?

Hand drills: on the endangered list?

Phil Davy answers the question of why many people still choose to use a hand drill to this day


My trusty Stanley 803 double pinion hand drill. You can see the double pinion teeth on the Stanley

A few decades from now, how many of our familiar hand tools are likely to be relegated to museums and private collections? Take the hand drill, for example. With regular innovations from power tool manufacturers to speed up our woodworking lives, is it in danger of extinction, I wonder? Why on earth would you need a hand drill when a cordless version offers speed, power and often screwdriving capability as well? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of this basic workshop item.

In many woodworking situations it’s the ideal tool for boring. For fine cabinetmaking or antique restoration tasks, such as fitting delicate hardware, musical instrument and model making, there are plenty of occasions when a slip of the drill bit could spell disaster. Fortunately, a hand drill is slower than its power tool equivalent. By gently rotating the handle there’s much greater control, so you can stop instantly without fear of drilling too deeply. Sometimes hole depth is critical, which isn’t always so easy to manage with a cordless or mains drill.

Another advantage is chuck capacity, especially at the smaller end of the range. Precision drilling with small bits is a cinch, with the jaws securely gripping a 0.5mm diameter bit. With many cordless or mains powered tools such a tiny bit will simply drop out when the chuck is tightened. Even when it is locked in the jaws, the weight of the tool can snap a bit if you’re not careful. And don’t forget the noise. OK, so a cordless drill is not the loudest of power tools, but if working late at night you probably don’t want to disturb the neighbours. And if you’re not in the habit of charging batteries regularly, the cordless tool could be out of juice just when you need it.

An unusual two-speed Millers Falls wheel brace

Read the full article in The Woodworker October 2017

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